Charleston and Savannah Railway

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The Charleston and Savannah Railway was a 19th-century American railroad serving the coastal states of South Carolina and Georgia and running through part of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

The system was originally chartered in 1854 as the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. The C&S RR established and operated a 120 miles (190 km) 5 ft (1,524 mm)[1] gauge rail line from Charleston, South Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia, connecting two of the most important port cities in the antebellum southeastern United States. South Carolina state senator Thomas Drayton was the president of the railroad from its earliest planning stages in 1853 until 1856.

During the Civil War, control of the railroad was vital to the protection of Savannah and keeping nearby Confederate troops supplied with food and materiel. In December 1864, during his March to the Sea, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman sent part of his Union forces forward to cut the line, which would force Confederate general William Hardee to retreat and abandon Savannah. The mission failed, but sections of the railroad would be severely damaged during Sherman's subsequent 1865 Carolinas Campaign.[2]

Following the war, the railroad was reorganized in 1866 as the Savannah and Charleston Railroad but did not complete repairs and reopen for traffic until 1869-70. In 1873 it defaulted on a loan and ended up in bankruptcy. It was then sold to Henry B. Plant (June, 1880s), and the railroad's name was changed to the Charleston and Savannah Railway, becoming part of the Plant System of railroads.[3]

Later, the Plant company was sold to ACL (Atlantic Coast Line Railroad) in 1902 which later became SCL (Seaboard Coast Line Railroad). Railroad.[4] The Hardeville to Savannah track was used by the Southern Railway to connect a Columbia-Hardeville section of track to Florida. Today, sections of the C&S Railway is part of the CSX Railway line (Chessie/Seaboard Merger).

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Further reading[edit]

  • Stone, H. David, Vital Rails: The Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the Civil War in Coastal South Carolina, University of South Carolina Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-57003-716-0.